by Neil Fiore, PhD

This article is intended to offer the psychological and behavioral perspective for overcoming fear of rejection, especially when it derails our attempts to contact potential clients and customers.

The following steps are derived from conversations with people in sales – Insurance, Real Estate, Retail, and Services — and from our coaching sessions and motivational seminars.

These steps are also intended for anyone who delays making any type of business or personal call.

To minimize your resistance to making calls, learn to play leadership role in facing fear:

1. Prepare for Rejection.

To deal with Fear of Rejection – one of main reasons we avoid worthwhile projects — do the “worst-case scenario” drill.

A) Answer all the “what ifs” that repeat in your head. Answer all fears/”what ifs” with “This is what I will do if . . .” [NOTE: Do not say, “It’s okay.” See “B” for a more effective response.]

B) Be honest [don’t try to be positive] about what you expect your initial reactions to be. For example: “First, I’d cry, hate myself; make myself anxious and depressed for six months, like I did last time.” “I’d feel like a failure and unloved — at first.”

C) Get used to recognizing your initial reactions as just that, “initial reactions,” that will be followed by corrective, stronger actions such as step 2.

2. Build Your Psychological and Emotional Safety Net.

Find a way to accept yourself, no matter what. This is what your Worrying-“What if” – mind needs to know. This survival function is shouting, “Wake-up and tell me the plan for survival.” To quiet this inner voice, you need to build the inner safety and acceptance with yourself that says:

“Regardless of what happens, I will be on your side. I will never abandon you.” Or

“Regardless of what happens; regardless of what anyone says or thinks, your worth is safe with me.”

Notice how Michael Jordan responded in 1993 to the “What ifs” of the reporters when he quit basketball to play baseball.

He showed amazing leadership ability of his inner team by responding to the “what ifs” with:

“You’re not always going to be successful in life. I can accept failure. What I will not accept from myself is not trying [that is, I’m a leader who chooses to take risks]. If I fail, I won’t feel bad [that is, I won’t make you – my worrying mind – feel bad]. I’m strong enough as a person to face failure and move on.”

If that dialogue represents any of Michael’s leadership vision for his life, you can bet that the inner team is going to show to do its best and take risks. His team knows there isn’t going to be a lot of self-criticism, anxiety, or depression if they fail. Under Michael’s leadership, they can face failure, take corrective action, and move on.

3. Choose Growth over Comfort.

Make it one of your top priorities to rapidly confront discomfort, fear, self-doubt, and lack of confidence. Never let “I don’t want to” or “I’m afraid” be reasons for avoiding a worthwhile goal or challenge. Make it a habit to choose to show up to get your Fear-Inoculation Shot. “I don’t want to” is just one of our initial responses. It needs to be followed by the leader’s ability to choose among several options and to deal with the consequences. Break the habit of seeking what’s comfortable and avoiding what’s uncomfortable and you’ll experience greater freedom and effectiveness.

4. Don’t wait to feel confident or motivated. Choose to act like a leader.

Lacking confidence, motivation, or even knowledge is not an excuse for inaction. You don’t have to want a root canal [or to complete your Income Tax forms and pay your taxes] in order to take the action that makes sense in the real world.

Ignite your curiosity about what will happen when you choose to show up and face a task that a part of you doesn’t know how to do. Tell yourself: “Soon you will know something you don’t know yet.” “This is going to be interesting.” “I will land this one or something better.” “Something will come to me.”

Put the creative part of your brain on alert: “I’m expecting a creative solution.” Going from not-knowing to knowing is the essence of creative problem solving. Expect a surprise! Wonder if something will come to you in 10 seconds or 30 seconds.

5. Practice strategic cramming. Deadlines work. Make your own deadlines.

Face your list of calls and see how many you can make in 15-30 minutes. If a project is overwhelming, commit to exploring it for only 5-10 hours this week. You’ll be breaking through the inertia and be onto momentum and motivation. Then decide if the project deserves investing another 10 hours next week. In the first 5-10 hours you will reach a critical mass of knowledge to build on. You’ll also discover — within seconds or minutes — that there’s creative genius in you that will take you from not-knowing to knowing, and that you have learned how to work in the Zone.

6. Making a one-time sale, or a life-long connection?

To warm up your cold calls, put your sales pitch on the back burner and ask the questions that demonstrate that you’re more interested in the client than in just closing one sale.

It’s been said before but bears repeating: “To build a long-term relationship with a customer or client, you need to listen to their concerns and demonstrate that you understand the problems they face and that you have the skills to help.” “You’re not selling a product or service, you’re offering a life-long connection that fits their needs.”

To demonstrate integrity, be ready to say, “You know, I’m not the best person for this job but I can whole-heartedly recommend a colleague.” This statement alone, almost guarantees that you’ll be in their “rolodex” for future business. And, as an extra bonus, your resistance to cold calling will be melting away.

Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation. – Aristotle

A Law of Physics: A body at rest remains at rest; a body in motion tends to stay in motion.

A Law of Productivity: Break through the inertia and you will find momentum and motivation.

For specific COLD CALLING skills and resource materials, contact my colleague Mark Sanford:

“Take the cold sweats out of cold calling and learn how to optimize lead generation in business to business contacts.”

Visit for more information

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